Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky has called on Western countries to supply fighter jets and long-range munitions, urging for more weapons just hours after the United States and Germany agreed to send heavy battle tanks.
Speaking in a video address on Wednesday, Zelensky thanked his German and American counterparts for their decision to send tanks, but quickly shifted to Ukraine’s need for additional arms.
“We must also open deliveries of long-range missiles to Ukraine, it is important – we must expand our cooperation in artillery,” he said, adding that his country also requires fighter jets, and that “speed and volume are key now.”
Washington’s decision to send 31 Abrams tanks broke a stalemate with Berlin, which had refused to send its own Leopard 2 tanks or allow allies to re-export them to Kiev unless the United States followed suit. Ukrainian officials had long pleaded for heavier armor, specifically the M1 Abrams, among other advanced weapon systems from the West.
A top advisor to Zelensky, Mikhail Podolyak, told the Telegraph on Wednesday that he expects Ukraine’s patrons to provide long-range missiles eventually, claiming they would be “part of the negotiation process” for the next weapons delivery to Kiev.
“Right now we are seeing a sharp change in sentiment among the political elites of European countries, who understand that we need to transfer all equipment, including armored vehicles,” he said. “And we will reach, I am sure, no doubt, an agreement on long-range missiles.”
The advisor added that “Only these missiles will make it possible to destroy almost the entire infrastructure of the Russian rear army.”
Citing unnamed sources, the Telegraph reported that the UK government has “not ruled out” longer-range missiles, but currently has no plans to supply them. Washington has previously refused Ukraine’s requests for ATACMS surface-to-surface missiles, which have a range of around 190 miles (305km), though it is unclear whether that, like the M1 Abrams decision, might be subject to change.
Moscow has repeatedly called on Western countries to halt the flow of weapons into Ukraine, saying the arms will only prolong the conflict and make a negotiated settlement impossible. Russia’s ambassador to the US, Anatoly Antonov, condemned the upcoming tank shipments as “another blatant provocation,” insisting the hardware will be “destroyed” by Russian forces.